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Hosts needed for third On the Table Greater Akron

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On the Table Greater Akron logo

On Thursday, Oct. 3, residents in Summit and Medina counties will gather in small groups to have mealtime discussions about the community's most pressing needs as Akron Community Foundation will once again bring On the Table Greater Akron to the area. The community foundation is currently seeking hosts to facilitate these discussions, and anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in these counties is invited to host or participate in a conversation.

This year, conversations will focus on three priority issues that have emerged through the On the Table surveys, as well as a community needs assessment commissioned by the community foundation: drugs & addiction; the aging senior population; and diversity, equity & social inclusion. While hosts are able to choose any topic they wish to discuss, Akron Community Foundation is encouraging conversation around these three topics that it has identified as funding priorities for both its proactive grantmaking initiative and this year's On the Table Community Impact Awards.

Last year, the community foundation awarded $50,000 total to 26 organizations that submitted proposals for new ideas that emerged from their conversations. This year, the foundation will award up to $100,000 for ideas focused on these three priority issues. Up to $2,000 per grant will be available to participating organizations. Applications will open in November and recipients will be announced in the spring. Akron Community Foundation will also be announcing the first round of its proactive grants this fall, with a total of $500,000 earmarked to address these three priority issues in the near future.

"On the Table Greater Akron has provided direct insight into the issues that are troubling our community," said John Petures, president and CEO of Akron Community Foundation. "Thanks to those who have participated over the past two years, we have the data and feedback that tell us these are the areas that need our time, attention and funding, and now we're taking action."

On the Table hosts will be responsible for inviting eight to 12 guests to their conversations, which can take place at family dinner tables, local restaurants, church basements, community centers, classrooms and more. Hosts are asked to either attend an in-person training session or view an online training video before the event. There will be four training sessions available: Thursday, Aug. 15 from 9 to 10:30 a.m.; Thursday, Sept. 5 from 3 to 4:30 p.m.; Tuesday, Sept. 17 from 5 to 6:30 p.m.; and Thursday, Sept. 26 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. All training sessions will be held at the American Red Cross, located at 501 W. Market St. in Akron.

This is Akron's third year of hosting On the Table. On the Table conversations are part of a national initiative funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. On the Table replicates an annual civic engagement initiative of the same name developed by The Chicago Community Trust in 2014. Support for On the Table advances Knight Foundation's work to help cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunity and create a culture of civic engagement. Knight Foundation believes that successful communities are equitable, inclusive and participatory. Also sponsoring this year's event is Huntington Bank and Main Street Gourmet.

To learn more about Akron's On the Table initiative and to get involved, contact John Garofalo, vice president of community investment at Akron Community Foundation, at 330-436-5624 or jgarofalo@akroncf.org.

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